Coach: Nikki Hintze.
2012: Third in NOL; regional qualifiers.
Returning letterwinners: Senior Marisa Stephens. Juniors Abrie Smith; Katie Brickner. Sophomores Lexi Desjardins; Cassandra Gooding; Amanda Schwartz; Lindsay Young; Lydia Vallery.
Columbian Girls Cross Country: (front, left) Alexis Desjardins, Cassandra Gooding, Amanda Schwartz, Lindsay Young, Bre Coffman, Lydia Vallery, Katie Brickner, Abrie Smith, Marisa Stephens. (back) Beca Kimmet, Samantha Fry, Cana Ingalls, Hahna Shook, Cheyene Fitch, Derra Cheatham, coach Nikki Hintze
Others: Freshmen Derra Cheatham; Cana Ingalls; Beca Kimmet; Annie Masella; Cheyenne Fitch; Sam Fry; Bri Coffman; Hahna Shook.
Outlook: Last year Columbian grabbed the fourth and final team regional qualifying spot at its Division II district at Galion. Five of the seven who ran in the regional race are back this year to make another run deep into the postseason, but things will be a bit tougher this year as the Tornadoes have been moved to Division I.
Hintze though said she as a team that be very competitive in the upper division.
"This group is more capable than any group I've had, so I don't think the move is a bad thing. This group is definitely capable of succeeding in Division I," she said. "It can only help us when it comes down to our league meet. We'll be running against excellent teams, teams we've never run against before and it will only help us down the road."
Last year, Columbian relied on a lot of youth with four freshmen and a sophomore in its top seven. Hintze feels with the experience of running a regional race already under their belt, the group will only get better.
"Last year a good bulk of our varsity team was freshman and they did awesome," she said. "To see that group come in with experience is going to be huge."
Added to that group is another talented freshman class, and good leadership from the upperclassmen to bring out the best in them.
"We do have a good chunk of freshmen again; we are going to have some freshmen running for those varsity spots," Hintze said. "Marisa and Abrie are leading the team right now and know how to push that group and get the most out of them."
Hintze said practices are going well with times equal to where they were a year ago. Only, there's more people hitting those times.
"Our times so far are very comparable to last year except there are more girls at that time," she said. "Where we had four girls last year, we have eight this year.
"So far with practices, we have an awesome pack. There are eight girls that are running up together and coming together like any coach would want. They are really running together as a team. There's no one that really runs out in front. They run together and push each other and run as a team."